Out-of-control prescribed burn destroys farmer’s main source of income

Published: Updated:
Firefighters battle brush fire. (Credit: WINK News)
FILE: Firefighters battle brush fire. (Credit: WINK News/FILE)

A prescribed burn gets out of control. It went outside of the planned area and crews spent hours putting it out.

Now, the owners of Southern Fresh Farms have to clean up the mess. The fire got so close to their property. They nearly lost their colony of valuable bees.

“I don’t know about the crops,” said Shelly McMahon, owner of Southern Fresh Farm. “I don’t know.”

Shelly is mopping up after the Wednesday morning prescribed burn quickly turned chaotic.

“We were here this morning,” Shelly said. “First thing and saw, all the big flames at the first part of the property.”

Those flames stretched five acres and came so close to her property. It destroyed some of the family’s bee farm. McMahon said is a big loss.

“You gotta have bees for your farm,” Shelly said.

Her daughter, Amy Schwab, said she the bees play a huge role in their income.

“The honey from this property is our biggest seller,” Amy said.

It took firefighters several hours to put the fire out. The South Trail Fire Dept. blames heat and high winds for the fire growing too quickly.

“The permit always gives very specific restrictions based on land pile size or if the wind increase over a certain amount,” said Amy Bollen, South Trail Fire District.

As for Shelly and her team of volunteers, they said the next step is to clean up and assess the damage.

“We put our whole life into this,” Shelly said. “Our whole life is this farm. This is what we do seven days a week. Everyday…and so it could be gone in a matter of seconds.”

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.